The recent stance by the majority of referees, who chose not to participate in the recent Guyana Football Referees Council (GFRC) Electoral Congress, forcing it to be abandoned due to a lack of quorum, should serve as a wakeup call for all involved in the sport.
Football has been experiencing a bad period for a while now and this latest action by one of the most important components of the game is clearly a reflection of the council’s poor management, but also presents a general impression of the overall state of affairs of the sport’s supervision.
It was reported that less than 20 of the 117 registered officials attended the congress, fewer that the two thirds required in accordance with the constitution.
The executive was therefore forced to reschedule the congress to a later date, but according to reliable sources if certain guarantees are not met by the due date then the possibility of another large percentage of absentees is highly probable.
This threat leaves the current executive with approximately 11 days to set a new agenda, one which the source, said must promise better treatment and representation for referees across the board.
The source also cited the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) unwillingness to “make tough decisions”, pointing to the current accusations of inappropriate behavior, general misconduct and harassment within the fraternity as a primary example of the referees disgruntlement, while the issue of delayed payments for matches continues to be a contentious topic.
“More and more we are being provided with plenty evidence of the council’s executive self-serving attitude, there is hardly any proper representation and officials are more concerned with preserving their office and being in the good books of the president than doing their duty which is to represent referees,” the source stated.
According to the source, this is the behavior that is creating the rift within the referees’ fraternity, which does not augur well for the sport’s image and development.
Usually a closely knit alliance, the council is now deeply divided with a few willing to forsake their constitutional responsibilities, which among other things is to effectively represent its members, for patronage from the GFF.
Quizzed on whether their absence at the scheduled congress is simply trivial and might not be taken seriously by the current hierarchy, the source said, “our absence could not have been more emphatic and if the powers that be want to take it as trivial then let’s see what happens the next time around.”
The source is adamant that the overwhelming consensus is that change must occur or the council could be plunged into a crisis, much to the detriment of everyone.
“A general overhaul of how things are run is what is required and this includes personnel changes, the return of respect for referees and an absolute effort for transparency and accountability, the source said adding that to have someone who is at the centre of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into alleged misconduct and harassment still functioning in an official capacity, oozes preferential treatment and could be interpreted as an outcome being reached despite the probe still in process.
In many other institutions, the accused would have been asked to either resign or simply sent on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The source said members are lacking confidence both individually and collectively in the executive and these two discrepancies are recipes for disaster.
In summing up, the source opined that no amount of FIFA visits, photo ops and FIFA funded projects could help the GFF understand what is happening at the grassroots’ level
In order to restore the sport’s image there has to be a serious attempt to convene an assembly with all stakeholders to better comprehend the real issues plaguing the game’s development.
All parties must sing from the same page. With the 2018 World Cup weeks away, if the Referees Council and the GFF continue on their current path, they may very well end up like Italy, Netherlands, the USA and Chile, missing something special.